Why Has South Africa Banned Alcohol?

11 months ago


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In late March, South Africa made the domestic sale of alcohol and tobacco illegal nationwide as part of its public health strategy against Covid-19.

A nationwide lockdown, implemented on March 25, allowed most citizens to leave their homes only to buy food, seek medical care and collect welfare grants among other basic necessities. While the rules were eased from early May – including the gradual reopening of some economic sectors – bans on the sale of alcohol, tobacco and many other products were retained, a night-time curfew was imposed and outdoor exercise was restricted to a three-hour morning window.

A ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products, however, has already led to a tax under-recovery of more than 1.5 billion rand (approximately $90 million) last month alone, said Edward Kieswetter, the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service. The commissioner also warned of a major potential boost to the illicit trade of tobacco.

But Charles Parry of the South African Medical Research Council says it’s helped free up to 5,000 trauma beds in hospital per week, and about 15 lives per day.

Growing frustration with a raft of restrictions – particularly tobacco – and the extreme pressure on jobs and revenue in the sector has meant pressure has grown on government to review its lockdown rules and better justify its decision-making. Particular pressure has been put on government to explain why it rescinded its decision to allow the sale of tobacco days after President Ramaphosa announced the change.

Do the benefits of the ban – for health and society – outweigh the costs as well as unprecedented restrictions on citizens’ individual liberties? Reporter Marc Daniel Davies investigates.

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28 thoughts on “Why Has South Africa Banned Alcohol?”

  1. A very stupid reaction to this worldwide disaster.They did the same here in Thailand.It resulted in murder,suicide and deaths from homemade hootch.I made alcohol sellers reduntant and caused them to lose their livelihood.Not a great idea when alot of people get comfort from a drink.Stupid and dangerous.I hope their goverment comes to its senses soon.Good luck SA.👍👍

  2. Any money "saved" by these bans will just line the pockets of the ANC politicians at the end of the pandemic as a bonus. So that money is "saved" now and lost without a trace later as it has been for the past 2 decades.

  3. Absolutely crazy…..Those fighting the case for the legal trading of tobacco products need only ask a few questions to ensure the ban is lifted: 1. Are tobacco products illegal in South Africa. If not rest your case. 2. Show factual proof that smoking has been the major contributor to covert 19 cases. If they can't rest your case. 3. Show stats of those with diabetes are higher at risk. If so any products with sugar need to be banned but aren't. Who's paying high medical aid costs. If as a smoker,you are paying for your risk upfront like insurance so if admitted to hospital under your medical aid scheme, schemes are obliged to treat you at top level or they are renaging on their obligations and can be sued. What are the financial impacts of the fiscal by banning the legal product over illegal ones. I can go on and on but the last and most important one is to ask SDZUMA to swear under oath that neither her or any of her family or associates have ever had dealings with anyone known to be dealing in the illicit trading of cigarettes. If she can do this, then it's just a question of time before she's caught out and can be charged. Oh how silly this whole thing is. People have been smoking since the beginning of time.Does she really think they are going to stop now? Unban sale of alcohol but not cigarettes is crazy. A few dops and everyone looks for smokes, if the can't get it, what does it lead to.1. Fighting, hypertension, family abuse so they end up growing dagga in their own yards for thei own consumption which is legal, rolling their zols and becoming drug adicts as well. Eish shame, the arguments for allowing tobacco products far out way any against it so just lift the bloody ban, tell people that for now there's no smoking in public places until level one and this whole stupid argument goes away. No Judge in his right mind would find for the state if the arguments for lifting the ban were thought through properly and presented accordingly. Just a matter of time…..watch this space.I also find it strange that all media associated with Government does not allow public comment.what foes this tell you? I'll put money on a bet that Gov have come to an arrangement with AMTOBACCO to withdraw their case and Gov will permit them to export smokes. Its all rediculous and smell a serious corruption move here.

  4. I live in central South Africa and as we say here "dis 'n poes plek" .. we are paying R250 for smokes which was R30 before the ban , our minister is making money from illegal cigarette trading so why would she lift the ban?

  5. I think that tobacco should be banned but keep all types of alcohol, vapes, nicotine. Weed should definitely be legal and potentially ecstasy but tax ecstasy like madness.

  6. i haven't watched mainstream media in decades so just learned about this, as a smoker this is completely outrageous! i can't believe this is tolerated, having trouble breathing NOT because of the smokes!

  7. Notice 1min in, "probably saving" key word is probably, how can we know for sure when the rest of the word has not gone to such extreme measures, my opinion as a individual who is NOT a consumer of alcohol, is the pros dont outweigh the cons. If our rights are so easily extorted what does this say for our future when people see how easily south Africans can be manipulated and use these facts for something more sinister? Maybe some say this is minor inconvenience and for the better good. Millions are watching and gathering info to abuse later to there advantage. To say that this is a conspiracy and that there are no people in the word like this is very ignorant. It's been done before. It's just a matter of time and how severe their agenda. May not be now or soon but it takes one person in a bad mood to contrive something like this, right now there are plenty of people in bad moods, we got that on tap. Someone please do the math for me if you are able,

  8. There actually is a major scientific significance to smoking and viral infection. Smoking increases your susceptibility to viral infection because there are toxins in the smoke that can suppress your immune system (a cellular network that defends your body against microbe invasion & infection), it causes lung inflammation (increases cancer risk & ultimately suppresses immune system) which can damage your lung parenchyma, it can damage the cilia (small hairs lining your lungs) which usually beat to drive microbes & foreign particles out if your bronchi & lungs. Smoking can also damage macrophages, immune cells that sit in your lungs & eat invading microbes. Smokers are actually at higher risks of viral infections. Hope that helped.

  9. Don't believe it at all. Where I'm from they kept our liquor stores open , to KEEP the beds (ICU/and regular) in the hospitals OPEN, so alocoholics don't fill the hospital beds with withdrawal symptoms!!!

  10. Nobody that respects themselves should make mone by selling drugs (alcohol and tobacco are drugs) I hope all bars go bust and people stop drinking thanks to these measures. People that hate this are clearly lost and have no common sense, alcohol and tobacco have destroyed millions of lives it is a big problem

  11. Because they are fkn idiots following Australia & making the exact same mistakes but no one is interested in those mistakes…

    Thats why I can't work in such an environment as a Harm Reductionist…

    And after 20 years of fighting such bullshit policies & the people who believe in them despite the EVIDENCE, I'm need to depart Australia so I can participate in BEST PRACTICE Opportunities, because not following Best Practice is no longer good enough Australia & South Africa…

    I hope you all get fkn sued in a Class Action for the Harms you perpetuate by ignoring Best Practice!

  12. Do you think the orchestrators of this are not having a drink or a smoke?

    I keep asking where are the dignitaries, royalty, statesmen, forbes magazine A listers, governors, Hollywood A listers, news reporters, nazi scientists that are dropping like flies from this indiscriminate virus???

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